Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 1 04:11:15 UTC 2009

The OED lists the following spelling variants and the centuries in
which they appear:

4-7 rubarbe, 5-7 rewbarb(e, 6-7 r(h)eubarbe, rubarb, rheubarb (5
rembarbe, rwbarbe, rubarde, 5-6 reubard(e, 6 rubard, rebarbe,
reuberbe, rhew-, ryo-, rui-, 7 ruberb, ruybarbe, rhebarb, 9 dial.
rhubard), 7- rhubarb

The <d> variants appear in the 15th and 16th cc., and "rhubard" is
given as dialectal in the 19th c.  However, the earlier <d> spellings
are restricted to the meaning:

1. a. The medicinal rootstock (purgative and subsequently astringent)
of one or more species of Rheum grown in China and Tibet and for a
long period imported into Europe through Russia and the Levant, but
since 1860 direct from China;

For the other meanings, including "English rhubarb," the plant whose
stems we eat, only the <b> spelling occurs.  I don't know if this is
because references to English rhubarb show up first in the mid 17th c,
perhaps after that spelling had become standard.  The entire entry
invites the inference that the modern <d> variant is not related to
the earlier one an arose independently in the 19th c.

I'm trying not to read to much into the OED entry.


On Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Victor<aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      rhubard
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A friend has just posted a mini-rant complaining about strawberries
> being completely superfluous to a "rhubard pie". In fact, he wrote
> "rhubard" three times in the space of 37 words (including "Arrgh!"). I
> missed it upon first reading. Then someone else commented on the
> spelling. A simple search gets 37000 raw ghits for "rhubard", including
> recipes, seed catalog listings (for both "rhubard" and "rhubard chard"),
> and even corporate names (e.g., "Rhubard Productions").
> Some might just be typos:
>  >>Got Rhubard? Rhubarb Apple Bake...
> http://sweetgrace.typepad.com/the_inadvertent_farmer/2009/05/got-rhubard-rhubarb-apple-bake.html
> Here's one odd entry:
>  >>rhubard:
>  >>The vagina </Sex-Dictionary/vagina> . See vagina
> </Sex-Dictionary/vagina> for synonyms.
>  >>QUOTE: The Joker (Jack Nicholson) to Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton)
> in Batman (1989): ' Never rub </Sex-Dictionary/rub> another man's rhubarb.'
> http://www.sex-lexis.com/Sex-Dictionary/rhubard
> Note that the quotation has "rhubarb" but the entry is for "rhubard".
> The Urban Dictionary has the same reference, but it's hidden
> (cross-listed under "Whispering Eye", but with no main entry of its own).
> The two quotations for slogans under "Gazi" (in Urban Dictionary) also
> have obvious (to me) sexual connotation. (Only the first one has
> "rhubard", but I kept the second because it makes the euphemism more
> obvious.)
>  >>"Rhubard to Britain's Custard"
>  >>"The World was your oyster: It's ours now."
> There are a number of Google Books hits as well, and a recent one seems
> to have panned out:
>  >>Vice-verser: the ramblings, ravings & ribaldry of Rhubard (1998)
> Another title is a possibility, but there is no text available, so I
> can't verify if this was just a typo in Google.
>  >>Adam's garden: the cultivation of vegetables, tomatoes, rhubard and
> small fruit By L. E. Fox (1925)
> But the more interesting one is from 1749 with an unquestionable
> spelling "rhubard":
> The Universal Magazine [Printed for John Hinton, at the King's-Arms in
> St. Paul's Church-Yard, London]; Volume IV, February 1749, p. 77
>  >>When you once certain that the distemper is amongst your cattle, take
> a quarter of an ounce of the very best _rhubard_, boil it half a quarter
> of an hour in a small pipkin of water, strain it, and when lukewarm,
> give this quantity to each ox or cow, throwing the _rhubard_ away, as
> being then of no farther use. ... After the first two or three days
> illness, you may give, instead of the _rhubarb_, or even if you continue
> the _rhubard_, allowing a reasonable space between a small cup of rape
> oil, lukewarm, for two or three days together : or every other day, you
> may give a small quantity of honey, oil, and red wine, boiled together,
> after suffering it to stand till it is but blood-warm. ... The intent of
> giving _rhubard_, is in order to cleanse the body, and to prevent an
> inflammatory scowering; the oil is used for the same purpose, and to
> secure the intestines from excoriation ...
> Note, in particular, that one instance is of "rhubarb" and the rest of
> "rhubard". [Again, I kept more than the minimal amount of text because
> others may find parts of it of interest.]
> Another hit is also from 1749.
> A Treatise on Foreign Vegetables; By Ralph Thicknesse; [London, 1749], p.47:
>  >>Artic. XV. Of _Rhubarb_
>  >>Some Botanists confound the _Rhubard_ of the Moderns with the
> Rhapontick of the Ancient Greeks; but fro mthe Description of Rhapontick
> given by Dioscorides under the Name of [] or [], their Difference is
> evident; this appearing to have been the same with the Rhapontick of
> Prosper Alpinus. // Rhabarbarum, Off. Rhabarbarum verum, seu Sinense.
> The officinal or true _China-Rhubard_ is brought to us in thick Pieces
> of unequal Magnitudes, being sometimes four, five, or six Inches long,
> and three or four Inches thick, of a yellow or brownish Colour on the
> outside, but marbled or variegated like a Nutmeg within with
> Saffron-Colour and yellow, and of a light, fungous Texture.
> The latter piece is particularly interesting because the section title
> includes "Rhubarb", but the text is all "rhubard" _and_ it contains the
> Latin name with a -b-, so, logically, one should have expected an easy
> "rhubarb" derivative.
> Whatever else one may say about it, the "misspelling" is neither purely
> American nor British, so the origin might be interesting. My friend is
> from Central PA, spent over 20 years as an MIT student and now resides
> in NH.
> Another interesting bit on rhubarb. The Baltic names for it are
> variations on the German Rhabarber (+/- h, a/e, etc), which, in itself,
> is clearly derived from the Latin name Rheum rhabarbarum (US Wiki claims
> that's rha+barbarum, with rha related to Volga). On the other hand, the
> Russian name (and perhaps more wide Slavic equivalent) is "reven'". In
> my naive IE, this seems to be related to Rheum. But that's just pure
> speculation.
>    VS-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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